The past two years, S2 Golf Carts has been honored as a Best Local Business of the Grand Strand by WMBF News with voting conducted by area residents. Rod shares, "The local community has provided tremendous support and acknowledges our efforts to put the customer first. We have never worked harder in our lives or felt more fulfilled. Every decision we make and every dollar we earn is a direct reflection of how we conduct ourselves in the community we decided to make our home. With increased regional competition, it is important we continue to differentiate our business through the customer experience, strong relationships with our partners, and ability to adapt quickly to any unexpected challenges as we've done with the pandemic."
Rod and Jason continue to add brands to serve the needs of their customers and they continue to reinvest their profits to grow staff and provide exceptional customer service. They hope to build their own location and offer new services to their customers including storage solutions which is especially important to residents who live in the Grand Strand area only part of the year.
While shopping for a new golf cart in 2016, Rod Shilling and Jason Smart, Owners and Operators of S2 Golf Cart Solutions in Surfside Beach, SC, had a less than stellar shopping experience. As they left the dealership disappointed, Rod and Jason discussed their experience and what they would have done differently motivating them to research the possibility of launching their own golf cart business. In 2017, S2 Golf Cart Solutions was formed with "S2" inferring the combination of the two owners' last names.
The cornerstone of S2 Golf Carts is customer experience. Jason and Rod explain more, "We are dedicated to making sure that every customer has a great experience with us. Whether you are buying a new, reconditioned, or customized vehicle we want to make sure that you feel good about your purchase. We also service all brands and varieties of golf carts and specialize in LSV [Low Speed Vehicle] sales and service." S2 Golf Carts is an Authorized Dealer for most major cart brands including Tomberlin, EVolution, ICON Electric Vehicles, and many others.
Rod elaborates on how they differentiate their customer experience, "We offer to swing by your place and do the work there or we can pick up your vehicle and complete the repairs or provide maintenance at our shop. Our service area is vast and extends from Little River to Georgetown. Our crew of technicians are top-notch. Regardless of where we work on your cart, we can complete a 12-point pre-season service. With access to the very best parts at fair pricing and strong dealer relationships with all the major manufacturers, we will ensure your experience is nothing short of stellar."
Both Rod and Jason enjoyed successful business careers prior to launching S2 Golf Carts. Their combined experience has proven to be invaluable as they leverage their business skills and wisdom to operate S2 Golf Carts. Rod spent 38 years in the beverage industry in a variety of positions including serving as a national sales manager for the last 7 years. Jason started in the grocery industry and spent his last 20 years in the beverage industry including serving as a regional manager. Rod explains how they met, "Both of us spent the majority of our life in the Seattle area and got to know each other through the beverage industry. Our two families started vacationing together in South Carolina every year and knew that one day we wanted to retire here. Opening a business prior to retirement was something that came about when we saw an opportunity for a different way of life."
Rod and Jason first contacted SCORE Greater Seattle where they were living at the time seeking assistance with starting the business planning process. SCORE, with over 10,000 volunteer mentors, operates 384 chapters around the United States providing free mentoring to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. Once Rod and Jason decided to relocate their families and launch their business in Surfside Beach, SC, the Greater Seattle chapter referred them to their SCORE colleagues in Grand Stand where they were introduced to Jim Helfgott, SCORE Grand Strand Mentor and Vice Chair.
Jim began volunteering for SCORE Grand Strand in 2017. As a business leader with over 35 years' experience in telecommunications and international business, Jim has tremendous experience in business planning particularly with sales and marketing. Jim's expertise has proven to help his SCORE clients grow their businesses by establishing realistic stretch goals and focusing on how to achieve the desired results.
Jim, Rod, and Jason meet virtually each week until Rod and Jason relocated their families to Surfside, SC. Jason explains more about their experience during the mentoring sessions, "Jim helped by asking the hard questions. Some of those questions were scenario-based meaning Jim would ask us how we would react if certain business conditions existed preparing us for any potential future challenges. This thought process would later help us to adapt to the pandemic and enable us to continue grow our business." Rod continues, "Each meeting was highly informative. If there were questions Jim could not answer, he would engage his team and conduct research on our behalf. We worked on our forecasts and projection worksheets every waking moment to be certain we were prepared for the next meeting with Jim. SCORE developed a working document ensuring we would be fully prepared when we approached funding providers."
As business owners, Rod and Jason express the importance of asking for help, "Many people have strong desires to start a new business but very few will take the important steps to seek help. Use SCORE and the SBA to help you introduce you to the right people and to ensure you continue to differentiate yourself from your competition."